QEII Again Stirs Repair Interests

Monday, June 14, 1999
Interest in the European cruise ship repair market is currently focused on which shipyard will win the $31.3 million contract to repair the 1968-built, 70,327-grt cruiseship Queen Elizabeth II, owned by Cunard Line. There are currently three shipyards shortlisted for the work — Bremerhaven’s Lloyd Werft, Hamburg’s Blohm + Voss Repair and the U.K.’s A&P Southampton. The contract is expected to be awarded soon, with the drydocking dates scheduled for between November 12 and December 11. Now part of the Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) group, Cunard has also announced the drydocking programs for two other cruiseships in its fleet — the 1973-built, 24,492-grt Vistafjord (to be renamed Caronia), which will dock between November 20 and December 20, and the 1987-built, 37,845-grt Royal Viking Sun (to be renamed Seabourne Sun) during October 29 and November 29. The majority of work to be carried out at these drydockings will be changes to the passenger cabins and passenger facilities, with work being controlled by interior design consultant Robert Tillberg. No news on which shipyards will carry out the projects have been announced. Meanwhile, during late April, A&P Southampton, part of the A&P Group which also has yards in Falmouth, Tyne and Chatham, docked P&O Cruises’ 69,153-grt flagship Oriana for refit work. The refit saw the ship in the yard’s famous King George V Drydock, which was built during 1933 to accommodate the super liners of its day, including the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mary. She was at the yard for two weeks, with work including inspection/testing, repair and maintenance work, which was carried out in line with the standards of P&O. The project secured work for around 150 workers and created a further 75 jobs for the yard as well as for up to 400 sub-contractors who were carrying out ‘hotel’ maintenance work, including both accommodation and public areas. Carrying on with repairs to cruiseships, Lloyd Werft has won the $5.5 million contract to carry out refit work onboard Norwegian Cruise Lines’ (NCL) 76,049-grt cruiseship Norway. Duration of the project was scheduled for three weeks, and included engine, shaft and propeller overhauls and hull painting. Meanwhile, Lloyd Werft has announced that in talks with Italian cruiseship operator, Costa Crociere, it plans to lengthen two of its cruiseships next year. The yard has taken up initial talks, but no details had yet been worked out. This type of work has become a specialized sector of the industry for the yard, with Lloyd Werft already completing several similar projects for NCL, with the 32,396-grt Norwegian Majesty, the 50,760-grt Norwegian Wind and the 50, 764-grt Norwegian Dream all undergoing lengthening work. In addition, Airtours’ 1,600-berth cruiseship Sunbird (ex-Song of America) has now docked at Merseyside’s Cammell Laird shipyard for a $10 million pre-service refit and refurbishment contract. Work included the addition of nine penthouse suites and outfitting of soft furnishings in cabins and public areas. The ship, which was purchased from RCCL, will join the Airtours fleet in the Mediterranean at the end of May, this year. She is scheduled to be renamed in Palma on May 28 and will become the flagship of the U.K. cruise operators fleet. With regards to the general repair market, Shell has decided to award the re-activation project of its 68,122-dwt LNG carrier LNG Lagos (ex-Nestor), which has been laid-up in Loch Striven for over 20 years since she was built by Chantiers de l’Atlantique, St. Nazaire, during 1976, to French shiprepair yard Sobrena. The ship is being re-activated for Shell’s Nigerian project, which will be the ship’s first ever commercial cargo, and arrived in Brest during the first week in May, following a tow from Loch Striven. The vessel is expected to be at the yard for three months. During the latter part of April, this year (1999), there were nearly two million dwt worth of vessels undergoing repairs at Dubai Drydocks, UAE, with IMAC’s 298,324-dwt VLCC World Creation, Olympic Shipping’s 273,856-dwt VLCC Olympic Breeze, Ceres Hellenic’s 413,117-dwt ULCC Kapetan Hiotis, Sosema’s 269,047-dwt VLCC Licorne Pacifique and Bergesen’s 322,446-dwt ULCC Settebello all drydocking for repairs. Meanwhile, competition continues between Dubai Drydocks and Bahrain’s Arab Shipbuilding & Repair Yard (ASRY), with the latter also drydocking a number of very large tankers. Enquiry levels at ASRY have been noted to increase towards the second quarter of this year, and the yard has already been awarded a wide range of vessels for repair in April, May and June. Among these vessels include France Shipmanagement’s 306,999-dwt VLCC Picardie and the 300,000-dwt ULCC Luxembourg, ICB/Wallem’s 285,690-dwt VLCC Sabang and Jahre-Wallem’s 285,506-dwt VLCC Mountain Cloud. During the past couple of weeks, the deal by which YVC Holding takes over the Wilton Fijenoord (WF) shipyard in Rotterdam, has gone ahead. WF is one of two large shiprepair/conversion yards in Rotterdam owned by Wilton Fijenoord Holdings BV, part of the RDM Group — Verolme Botlek being the other shipyard. The Schiedam-based shipyard (WF), following a period of re-organization, will now be known as Rotterdam United Shipyards (RUS). The facilities sold to YVC include three graving docks of 42,000-dwt, 40,000-dwt (covered) and 160,000-dwt capacity and the smaller of the two floating docks, which has a capacity of some 38,000-dwt (this dock, it is understood , will be placed on the sale and purchase market by YVC). Wilton Fijenoord Holdings, which will also continue to own Verolme Botlek, will retain ownership of the larger of the two floating docks, which has a capacity of some 90,000-dwt, and will also offer this unit on the sale and purchase market. At present, it is understood that Croatia’s Viktor Lenac shipyard is negotiating for this facility. The covered graving dock has been used by WF for large scale repair and conversion work. It was originally covered as part of WF’s contract to build a series of submarines for Taiwan. The subsequent supply contract of spare parts for this submarine contract has been retained by Wilton Fijenoord Holdings. YVC currently operates two shipyards in Rotterdam, YVC Bolnes, operating in the repair and conversion markets, and YVC Ysslewerf, in the newbuilding market. It is the intention to centralize all repair activities at Rotterdam United in Schiedam, a process which is expected to take up to a year to complete, and will involve the transfer of two floating docks from YVC Bolnes (25,000-dwt and 18,000-dwt capacity respectively) to Schiedam. It is also the long-term objective to transfer the newbuilding activities from Ysslewerf to Schiedam. The two workforces, 140 employed at YVC Bolnes and 250 at WF, will be amalgamated. Throughout the past decade, WF has concentrated solely on the general repair market, while Verolme Botlek, with its large 295 ft. (90 m) wide graving dock, has had the advantage of being able to gain contracts from both the offshore and conventional shipping markets. In the Far East, the official opening ceremony of Hyundai-Vinashin Shipyard (HVS), which is a joint venture company between South Korea’s Hyundai Mipo Dockyard (HMD) and the Vietnam Shipbuilding Industry Co. (VISC), took place on April 26, this year. Before the opening ceremony, HVS accommodated its first vessel and carried out repair work to the owner’s complete satisfaction, before the ceremony was conducted. The first vessel was the 29,693-dwt Panamanian-registered bulk carrier Olympic Mentor, owned by Springfield Shipping, an affiliate company of the Onassis Group, Greece. The 1984-built ship underwent sandblasting and painting of cargo holds, diesel generator repairs and general repair work. Apart from this contract, the yard has another five ships expected to dock in the near future, and a further 30 vessels are under discussion, hoping to follow the next batch of ships. HMD, in line with its long-term strategy, Vision 2000, designed to become a leading company in the 21st century, entered into a joint venture with VISC establishing a shipyard in Vietnam and had a ground breaking ceremony during November, 1996. During the construction period of the yard, Tran Duc Luong, the President of Vietnam, accompanied by his ministers, visited HVS last October (1998) and leading figures of government including the Prime Minister in May, last year, confirming a high interest from the local government. HMD expects that the lower labor costs will meet the requirement of the shipowner and favorably compete with Singapore and Chinese shiprepair yards. Furthermore, HMD believes that HVS will strive to satisfy various needs of worldwide shipowners and managers with HMD guaranteeing high quality and extensive services. It is understood that around 100 HMD foremen and 900 Vietnamese workers are working together on this project. HVS is currently considered as one of the largest shipyards in the South East Asia region, outside of the Singapore area, with two drydocks of 40,000-dwt 1,246 x 213 ft. (380 x 65 m) and 80,000-dwt 853 x 147.6 ft. (260 x 45 m) vessel capacities, a 996 m long repair quay, and four sets of jib cranes (one of 80 tons, two of 30 tons and one of 15 tons). HVS plans to diversify its activities into the shipbuilding arena from 2004.
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